The 2011 National Household Survey found under half of Abbotsford residents identified as Christian.

Is Abbotsford still B.C.’s Bible Belt?

Statistics suggest less than half of city’s residents call themselves Christians

If you can bet on one thing when outsiders talk about the Fraser Valley, it’s that Abbotsford will be called B.C.’s Bible Belt.

But statistics suggest times are changing.

Between 2001 and 2011, Statistics Canada figures suggest that as Abbotsford grew rapidly, the city’s Christian population actually decreased by thousands.

The 2001 census reported that around 86,000 of the Abbotsford-Mission area’s 144,900 residents were Christians of one denomination or another.

But by the time the 2011 national household survey rolled around, only 80,525 Christians were believed to live in the area. Over that decade, more than 20,000 people moved to the Abbotsford-Mission statistical area, pushing its population above 160,000. Figures for just Abbotsford, excluding Mission, are similar.

A Statistics Canada spokesperson said that mirrors trends seen across all of Canada in those years, with the number of Christians decreasing as the country saw a general rise in the number of people declaring themselves to have no religion, or to be part of certain other religious groups.

Abbotsford retains a large faith community, and thousands pack churches every Sunday. But at the same time, Abbotsford’s demographics have been changing. And the 2011 National Household Survey suggested that less than half the people in Abbotsford consider themselves Christian.

Still, the 2011 survey doesn’t quite settle the matter. First, there are more Christians than any other faith group in Abbotsford. Of 130,950 estimated Abbotsford (not Abbotsford-Mission) residents in 2011, 65,055 – 49.7 per cent – were believed to be Christian. That’s easily the biggest single faith group in the city. The survey said Abbotsford had about 26,000 Sikhs and 35,000 of no religious affiliation.

But that survey also had significant problems. The Conservative government had made the long-form survey that asked about religion voluntary. Statisticians warned that the voluntary nature of the survey could skew the results. And, indeed, its religion counts suggest that was probably the case. (Either that or thousands of Christians up and left Abbotsford, abandoned the religion or died.)

Ten years prior to the 2011 survey, the 2001 census counted 5,000 more Christians in the Central Fraser Valley. In a decade of dramatic growth, it would be surprising to see any single religion group would decline in size.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

Goose in Abbotsford rescued after legs wrapped up in fishing line

Wildlife centre operator says people need to be more careful

Mission students begin home schooling on Monday

Superintenden Angus Wilson said teachers will be providing learning opportunities to students

Abbotsford Police use gold-wrapped BMW for latest anti-gang campaign

Program aims to pass on message that ‘All That Glitters is Not Gold’

Semi crash on Highway 1 in Abbotsford sends two to hospital

Crash left both drivers unconscious and trapped in vehicles

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

B.C. community service provider hosts friendly art competition for youth

Theme for Pacific Community Resources contest is ‘finding the silver lining in difficult times’

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

TransLink to reduce service on some bus routes, SeaBus, West Coast Express

Changes start April 6 ‘due to low ridership and financial pressures’ amid COVID-19

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Most Read